World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday called for a two-month moratorium on COVID-19 booster shots as many low- and middle-income countries still struggle to provide enough vaccine doses for their citizens.
The Associated Press reported Ghebreyesus made these remarks while speaking to reporters in Budapest. The WHO head argued that “vaccine injustice and vaccine nationalism” fuels the risk of more infectious COVID-19 variants emerging.
He had made a similar call for a moratorium on booster shots in richer nations earlier this month, arguing that it has yet to be proven whether a booster shot is any more effective at preventing COVID-19 transmission than the two shots that are normally administered.
Ghebreyesus's call for a pause on booster shots comes as the U.S. prepares to begin administering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all Americans who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines beginning Sept. 20.
Health experts have warned that as long as large populations of people remain unvaccinated, the risk of more infectious COVID-19 variants like the delta variant arising will remain.
"The virus will get the chance to circulate in countries with low vaccination coverage, and the delta variant could evolve to become more virulent, and at the same time more potent variants could also emerge,” Ghebreyesus said.
On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyFDA panel endorses COVID-19 booster shots for older Americans, rejects widespread use Facebook announces crackdown on 'coordinated social harm' campaigns Biden to speak at UN general assembly in person MORE asserted that the U.S. will be able to administer booster shots domestically while still helping to enhance vaccinations worldwide, either through donations or by boosting vaccine production abroad.
"This is a critical issue because we know that to end this pandemic and to prevent the development of future variants, we need to vaccinate both America and the world. ... We have to do both," Murthy said while appearing on "Fox News Sunday."